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Can Law Enforcement Draw Your Blood without Your Consent?

Recently, former NBA star Lamar Odom was hospitalized after being found unresponsive at a brothel in Nevada. Authorities obtained a search warrant to test Odom’s blood for drugs. The results of those tests have not yet been released, but the situation raises questions on your ability to consent to a blood test.1

When Police Can Draw Your Blood

consent blood testLaw enforcement is allowed to draw your blood without your consent. This amounts to a search, and thus requires law enforcement officials to first obtain a warrant. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures unless an exception applies. One exception could be that exigent circumstances apply, which means evidence of a crime would be lost or destroyed if police are required to take the time to get a warrant.

In the recent United States Supreme Court case Missouri v. McNeely, the court decided that police are required to get a warrant in order to draw someone’s blood suspected of DUI.2 Prior to this ruling, the law embraced the exigent circumstances exception for DUI cases because alcohol dissipates from your body over time. The court rejected this view in DUI cases, but it left open the possibility that other facts amounting to an emergency could justify a warrantless search.

Unfortunately, what those particular circumstances are is unclear. It is reasonable to argue that a medical emergency could be one such occasion.

Obtaining a Warrant after Refusing to Consent

Anyone arrested for DUI in California must submit to a blood or breath test under the implied consent law.3 You must also be aware that refusing a blood or breath test will not prevent police from arresting you for DUI and you could face additional penalties under California Vehicle Code Section 13389. If you refuse a blood or breath test or are unable to consent, police could obtain a warrant to draw your blood.

Additionally, prosecutors could use objective signs of intoxication and police testimony to convict you of DUI if you did not submit to a blood or breath test. However, an experienced DUI defense attorney may be able to help you avoid a DUI conviction.

The DUI Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Can Help You Now

DUI defense attorneysIf you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, you need to contact an experienced DUI defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich. Our skilled DUI attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing DUI charges for over 30 years. We’ve helped thousands of clients in their time of legal need, and we can help you now.

With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich DUI lawyer available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.


1. [http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/county-sheriff-releases-lamar-odom-911-tapes–tests-blood-for-potential-drug-use-001606526.html]
2. [Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S. Ct. 1552 (2013)]
3. [See California Vehicle Code Section 23612(a)]

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About Wallin & Klarich

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.